Do You Hear Me, Mr. Lincoln? by Judith Caseley;
Graphia Books: New York, 2009; $6.99
Life has changed for Sierra Goodman after the death of her father. Her grieving mother has gone into a house-cleaning rage, her brother is too young to interpret how she feels and suffers nightmares, and her friends are clueless about how she feels. With no one to turn to, Sierra gets comfort from a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. It was a meaningful gift her father wanted her to have. Lincoln seems to be the only one to hear Sierra’s pain and help her move on. That’s why Sierra talked to the portrait about what she felt, even though it couldn’t talk back.
After her father died, Sierra impatiently longed to return to her normal routine, but her mother resisted. She wanted to have family time again instead of just watching her mother clean all day. Sierra was very close to her father. Sierra’s entire family was grieved. Her Aunt Rose said that God took a diamond away from them. Moreover, the relationship between Sierra and her best friend, Eli, was growing apart. Sierra didn’t know why. It got worse when she found out that she’d have to act in a play as Mary Todd Lincoln while Eli acted as Abraham Lincoln. The play was like a reminder to Sierra when they acted the death of Lincoln. It reminded her of her father’s death. Both he and Lincoln died unexpectedly, even though her father was not shot.
As I read about Sierra’s problems, I felt sad and would hate it if I were in that situation. However, I’ve felt tragedy too. I was quite young when my grandfather died, and I’d been very close to him. It hurt me a lot to lose him because I was always able to express myself to him. One day, like a missile flying by, my grandfather was gone. It had happened suddenly and it was shocking. Similar to Sierra, I had no one to get comfort from. So I wrote in my diary for comfort because I felt relieved being able to express myself. Sierra, however, got comfort from a portrait. We can relate because we both know how to find comfort at times when we’re down.
My personal favorite part of the story was the play about Lincoln’s death. I liked it because it was for me the high point of the story. In that scene Sierra really expressed herself a lot. The play related to Sierra because Lincoln’s death reminded her of her father’s death. Both of their legs hung off the gurney because they were so tall. Sierra lost her father, and Mary Todd Lincoln lost her husband. They both lost people who were important to them.
Another aspect of the story I liked is the way the story shows how diverse the world is today. In the story, Sierra’s mother is Cuban and her father is Jewish. They are bringing two cultures together with no discrimination. I like this. It makes me feel that the world is changing. People can join from different parts of the world and get along.
Sierra Goodman’s grief is one I will always remember because I have never seen somebody overcome their grief so strongly. When I read this incredible story all I could think is “WOW.” It is a great piece of literature. I enjoyed this book of a long journey of sadness. I learned that there are challenges you face in life but you have to overcome. I think it’s the best book I’ve ever read.